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Associate Professor Asim Earns Mass Book Honors

Emerson College Writing, Literature and Publishing Associate Professor Jabari Asim took Honors in the Fiction category of the Mass Book Awards for his debut novel, Only the Strong.

“The recognition is gratifying because, like a lot of writers, I finish a work and immediately begin to wonder if anyone will consider it a satisfying read,” Asim said. “I’m especially pleased to be included in such good company. If there is such a thing as brilliance by association, there’s a good chance some of it might rub off on me.”

Only the Strong, set in a fictionalized St. Louis in the 1970s, tells the stories of two African American men—a crime boss and his enforcer—and their attempts to leave their violent pasts behind.

Two Emerson alumni were among the writers on the Mass Book Awards Long List. Laura van den Berg, MFA ’08, was long-listed in the Fiction category for her debut novel, Find Me, a dystopian story of a lonely woman who finds she is immune to a fatal epidemic; and Jack Gantos, MA ’84, was long-listed in the Middle Grade/Young Adult category for The Trouble in Me, an autobiographical novel about a boy who hangs out with the wrong kid.

The Mass Book Awards, given annually by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, recognize major work in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children’s/young adult literature published by or about residents of the Commonwealth. It is the largest state book awards program in the country.

WLP Professor Megan Marshall won a 2014 Mass Book Award in Nonfiction for Margaret Fuller: A New American Life, about the 19th-century journalist and Transcendentalist. Professor Dan Tobin, also in the Writing, Literature and Publishing Department, won the 2011 Mass Book Award in Poetry for Belated Heavens.

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